Summary: Second of two series on life change and the value of learning Godly teaching and living as God would have us live.

Sermon 26/09/09 Titus 3:1-8 and 14-15

Last week I read from and talked about Paul’s letter to Titus, the big idea about the whole sermon was that it is “wise for us to learn and grasp onto Godly teaching”.

Carrying on from where we were let’s read Titus 3:1-8 and 14-15.

In his letter Paul asks Titus to remind the people, the Christian people of Crete to be subject to the rulers and authorities, to be obedient, not to slander people, to be peaceable and considerate and to show true humility toward all men.

Why? Well as we have learnt from last week these Cretans were liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons, they were cruel and savage. They showed a general lack of integrity and really needed constant reminding that their life styles needed to be Godly and to change their approach to life. Paul had previously instructed Titus to rebuke them sharply.

Even though they were saved by God’s Grace they didn’t act that way. What they required was a change of heart so that they would start to live lives that were productive.

Paul understood where they were at, Paul himself he had been a hard nosed, dogmatic, hate filled individual; he goes on to point out to Titus, and I’m paraphrasing, “Think about it, things for us were the same as the Cretans, we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.

What Paul realised was that he and Titus, these two individuals other wise known as Saint Paul and Saint Titus were no better than those thieving, lying, lazy Cretans. Because Paul was a Jew and Titus’s a gentile Greek; prior to coming to faith in Christ they would have hated one another on sight without even knowing one another. From around three hundred and fifty BC for about one hundred and eighty odd years BC the Greeks had, had some control over Israel, there was no love lost between Jews and Greeks. What Paul was pointing out was that both of them had been rotten to the core. They were like the Cretan’s, like the rest of mankind, and then something happened.

This begins with a ‘but’ at the beginning of verse four; remember this! ‘But’ in scripture comes just before something that is really important.

We were like that, ‘but’ when!

Something happened, what happened?

But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of the good things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and making us new by the Holy Spirit, we were given the Holy Spirit because of the Generosity of Jesus who saved us, so that having been justified by his Grace, and we might become God’s children having a hope of eternal life.”

Mind boggling stuff this, we were, and we were like the Cretans, if you don’t think so, take time to make an honest appraisal, maybe you were not quite that bad? But still once distant from distant from God, we also fell into the, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23) category.

What God did for Paul and Titus through his Grace was to make a way clear for them to have a relationship with him.

If we look at verse three we see the actions of man, the lying the cheating the malice and hate etc. If we look at verses four to seven we see the actions of God, we see the work of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit justifying us through his mercy by his Grace.

What does this mean to be justified? (big pause) In scripture, in this part of scripture it means to be made sinless, ‘just as if I’d never sinned!’

That all of that pollution that we carry and that gets in the way of our relationship with God and our fellow men and women is taken away. By God’s grace we are justified.

This morning when you came into the citadel you found the seats up against the wall, confusing, a bit of a nuisance? This was used to illustrate what life without God’s Grace is like, it is confusing, it’s not ordered, each of us as individual’s are lost and in turmoil, we do foolish things we are disobedient, we hate we are envious. It’s really not much of a life in this dog eat dog, self focussed existence.

What God does is this, he takes us, because of his mercy. Not something that we have done and ‘saves us’ from the old life through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit. We are born again, our life changes, we are made new by the Holy Spirit, because God our Father pours Him out on us because of what Jesus did in sacrificing himself for our sins. The works been done. It’s like coming to a meeting here knowing that there will be a seat waiting, no confusion, no concern about finding a spot to sit, or that you won’t be able to sit where you normally do, the works already been done, someone’s taken the time to set it all out.

Can we compare this to God’s grace, Yes, salvation is not earned it is as simple as accepting and confessing Jesus as our Lord and Saviour Because of what Jesus has done we are able to be made new, God the Holy Spirit is then with us. What we can not achieve, God does. By God’s grace we are set free to live productive lives! (SBI)

Paul wanted to stress that it was because of what God had done that he and Titus were where they now stood before God that / they were even able to be family. Paul even refers to Titus as “my true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4). They like us, many different backgrounds joined together by the common bond of life through Jesus Christ. Paul and Titus were now family and what Paul wanted these people of Crete to know was that they could stand before God as family. As members of God’s family, they could become heirs of God justified by his grace, having hope of eternal life.

Here’s another way of looking at it.

The King of Abyssinia once took a British subject named Cameron prisoner and incarcerated him in the high fortress of Magdala. No cause was assigned for his confinement. When Great Britain found out, she demanded an immediate release for her citizen. King Theodore refused.

Within ten days after the refusal was received, ten thousand British soldiers were sailing down the coast headed for Magdala. Then marching across an unfriendly country for seven hundred miles, they went up the mountains to where the prisoner was being held. They gave battle, tearing the gates of the fortress down and reached the depths of the dungeon. They lifted that one British subject out, placed him on their shoulders and carried him down the mountains to the coast where a big ocean vessel soon sped him safely home.

That expedition took several months and cost the English government twenty-five million dollars. The entire resources of the government were made available in the rescue of only one citizen. Every child of God has this privilege and birthright in Christ.

What we can not achieve, God does. By God’s grace we are set free to live productive lives! (SBI)

Paul wanted Titus to stress these things, not out of a desire to control these people of Crete but because of his own, understanding and experience of life change in Christ. These people would only experience true life change when they changed their life style. They needed to be reminded to focus on what God had done and to live as he would have them live.

To be subject to rulers and authorities – they may have thought they like the rest of the people in that culture, were above the law.

To be obedient – because they were corrupt.

To do what ever is good – because this was countercultural they were by upbringing and culturally influenced to be self obsessed and to seek personal gain above all.

To slander no one – because they slandered, they gossiped, they told stories.

To be peaceable and considerate – because this was again countercultural

To show true humility to all men – Not just those of their own race or family but all men for they now were Christians

In today’s word we need reminding also to be subject to rulers and authorities. It interests me how any people I see riding their bikes around the streets of Christchurch with one helmets thumbing their noses at authority, especially when the law is there to protect their heads, this of course is just one example.

Obedience, yes teacher, yes mum or dad. How often in our humanity do we grumble and groan instead of just getting on with it.

We unfortunately live in a society where people do not always do good the norm seems to be do whatever feels good, helping people for the sake of helping people is uncommon – Do what ever is good there is no law against this, be encouraged for your contributions to Mung and the food bank the help you give your neighbors’ – don’t stop.

Slander is a terrible thing, how often can we pull a person apart with our tongues, I guess the old story is that ‘if you can’t say it to a persons face don’t say it at all’,

Why say anything that would intentionally hurt another at all?

Peaceable and considerate Jesus himself tells us blessed are the peacemakers, I think part of the reason they are blessed is that they don’t live with any guilt, because they consider others before themselves.

[To show true humility to all men, not just those we know or like. We are instructed show humility in our dealings with all people. This does not mean to be a doormat, from the Greek, this means to be gentile with people. Everyone needs to experience the love of God, you may be that persons starting point on a journey.

We cannot and should not do these things in our own strength, or our own gratification, remember: What we can not achieve, God does.

In verse fourteen Paul says that “our people must devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.

What God wants for us is life change; and that change is possible because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We who were once lost can testify to the life change that is brought about through a relationship with God, helped by his Holy Spirit. We can also say this was not something that we did for ourselves. We can’t achieve this by ourselves but God because of his love and his mercy has set us free and made us new to live lives that are a joy before his eyes.

Carol Owens the song writer summed it all up this way.

’Freely, freely, you have received

Freely, freely give

Go in My name, and because you believe

Others will know that I live.’ (Carol Owens)

If you have read this sermon please rate it, Ta, Andrew